Take the PSAT in your Freshman or Sophomore Year Reply

Pretty student doing homework

The Preliminary SAT, or PSAT is a test that most take in their junior year. It is however available to take as a freshman or sophomore if you wish to take it and it can be taken multiple times. If you are like most students, the prospect of taking yet another standardized test not appealing. There are already many tests to take, especially in your junior and senior year. This one, though, might be worth your time. Here are two compelling reasons to take the PSAT at least once in your first two years of high school.

The National Merit Scholarship Program

When you take your PSAT as a junior, you are also taking the qualifying test for the opportunity to win a National Merit Scholarship award. This award can be substantial and some colleges have set aside additional scholarship money for the winners of the scholarship if you attend their institution. Only those with the highest scores on the PSAT are eligible to win the scholarship, so you can imagine that there is some considerable competition. That being said, many students who take the test see it only as preparation for the SAT. Those who take the time to prepare for the PSAT will have an advantage and will be more likely to get a high score.

One of the best ways to prepare is to actually take the test. If you take the test as a freshman or sophomore, then you’ll know your score and you’ll know what parts of the test that you should work to improve. Plus, when you take the test that counts toward the scholarship you’ll be experienced at taking it.

Preparing to take the SAT

The SAT test can be one of the most stressful aspects of your senior year, which is already a very stressful and busy time. Your SAT score is used, among other things, to determine whether or not you will be admitted into a college. A great SAT score expands your choice of prospective schools, and a poor score can limit that choice.

Anything you can do to prepare for the SAT test will do two things: It will reduce your stress level when it comes time to take the test, and it will give you a better chance of doing really well on the test. Luckily, the SAT is very similar to the PSAT. If you take the PSAT as a freshman or sophomore, then you’ll know what you need to work on to do better. When you take your PSAT as a junior, you’ll have already practiced the test once or twice and you can use your scores on the PSAT to really focus your SAT Prep. There are many ways to prepare for the SAT, but all of them work better if you know what you need to focus on.

Taking the PSAT early gives you the opportunity to reduce your stress level later on and could end up giving you some scholarship money as well. Why wouldn’t you do some of your study and preparation in your first two years of high school if it could make things easier in your last two years of high school and help you get the best scores possible?

Read more about the PSAT on www.petersons.com.

Your Social Profile and Your Career Reply

Kiev, Ukraine - January 11, 2016: Background of famous social media icons such as: Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Linkedin, Tumblr, Myspace and others, printed on paper.

Repeat after me:

All of social media matters. Facebook. Flickr. Instagram. Pinterest. Medium. Linkedin. Snap Chat. Twitter. Vimeo. YouTube. These sites and others are important in a job search. Without the boring, parental or punitive tone, let’s quickly explore why. Over the last few years social media has become more of a factor in candidates being excluded from consideration.

And even if ones’ profile is password protected, I’ve seen that go south rather quickly. Having supported some of the best brands on the planet, it is not foreign to request login credentials. Worst, there are websites that archive social media traffic and portray your digital contributions and pictures oftentimes unknowingly.  I know that cruel internet.

All things considered, this is a critical time for you. You, your parents and other family members have invested resources and time in this educational journey. All of such so that you might secure a fantastic new role with a promising organization. The last thing you’d want is to be denied consideration based on your social media footprint. Let’s rethink your next post.

So before you fire off that resume or pop up for the next scheduled interview, let’s assume everything can and/or will be seen by the person you are scheduled to meet. As a Recruiter, I put each candidate through a quick social media forensic exercise. Here’s what we look for:


  • Photo should be clean, professional, visible – captured via camera if possible
  • Profile should be complete, include details, and paint a picture of who you are
  • Contact information of some sort should be visible – a social media handle or other


  • Post pictures that are not offensive or frowned upon by the employer
  • Be conscious of who you follow and or whose pictures you “like” in the process
  • Algorithms are always tweaked too the advantage of the host – not you – be mindful


  • Measure your emotion in those 140 characters – don’t always hit send (immediately)
  • Use tools to distribute thoughtful updates and filter questionable content
  • Respect that social recruiting (follows, hashtags, likes, etc) are methods of finding you


  • Record a crisp introduction to be shared via email/social media with employers
  • Briefly cover defining characteristics, an impact example(s) and contact information
  • Separate yourself from the average job seeker that sits at a keyboard and hits enter

I’m not suggesting you can’t have fun, or post incredible pictures from an office party, or holiday weekend. In fact, I encourage that. I’m asking that you reconsider if the post or tweet will have any potential impact on your mission. I’m suggesting to you that as a recruiter, I’m able to uncover more about you with your email address than you might know.

I’m saying think twice – tweet that. Truth is, a part of your brand will be created through your decision to say no. Progress require a critical injection of confidence and an elevated level of awareness beyond these artificial boundaries of acceptance established by others. Try this slogan: I’m comfortable is the old 20!

About Torin Ellis:

Human Capital Strategist // Interview Architect // Diversity Maverick // Engaging and high spirited. Creative, high voltage, ready to pursue results. Author of Rip The Resume available on petersons.com and where books are sold.

All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Your “After College” Survival Guide: How to Survive as a Fresh College Graduate Reply

Saving for educationBeth Bowman graduated college bubbling with excitement. She had accrued over $25,000 in student debts, but it didn’t matter because she felt she was pursuing a degree that will help her land her dream job of being a cultural consultant for a non-governmental organization. Now out of college, she was excited about her prospects.

However, Bowman soon realized the hard way that we don’t live in a perfect world. After sending about 500 job applications — to which she got no response — she now manages at a job as a policy administration specialist, a job that does not require a college degree.

Bowman’s story isn’t an isolated example.

Statistics from Pew Research Center show that it is becoming increasingly harder for college graduates to find good jobs: a whopping 44 percent of college graduates work at jobs that don’t require a college degree, and 20 percent of college graduates work in low-wage jobs that pay below $25,000. That obviously doesn’t justify today’s average student debt of $37,172.

Here are some survival tips to help you cope as a fresh college graduate:

  1. Make Preparations before Graduating College: Considering the difficulties in getting quality jobs faced by college graduates today, it is best to start making preparations before graduating college. Research shows that employers still value job experience — and having experience as a paid intern makes things even better.

The good news is that you don’t have to be out of college to get relevant job experience. You can still intern while in college; look for relevant organizations that have internship organizations for you while you’re still in college, and slowly build up your work experience. By the time you graduate, you don’t have to be disadvantaged due to lack of work experience.

  1. Get Creative About Job Applications: As a fresh graduate, don’t assume that you can get hired by applying to advertised jobs. Some sources show that up to 80 percent of jobs are unadvertised.


  • Regularly reach out to family and friends to inquire about unadvertised job openings they know of.
  • Avoid having your life story on your cover letter. Research shows that recruiters spend less than 10 seconds going through it. Keep your cover letter short and simple.
  • Don’t ignore the internet in your job search. Apparently, 80 percent of recruiters have hired people through LinkedIn. Create and polish your LinkedIn profile.
  • Don’t just wait while you try to get hired. Take advantage of technology to accelerate your prospect of getting hired: you can start a blog or create a simple website. Case studies abound of people who got hired through their blog/website, and many said employers were wowed more by their blogs than by their degree.
  1. Pursue Side Jobs and Alternate Career Options: Many college graduates wait for years, sending hundreds of job applications, without getting their dream job and spending all that time doing nothing. This eventually leads to depression.

Get creative about other ways to earn while looking for your dream job. You can easily find side jobs that will help you sustain yourself while pursuing desirable job opportunities; income from these side jobs reduce pressure on you and help cater to some of your day to day responsibilities.

About John Stevens

John Stevens is an entrepreneur and founder of HostingFacts.com, an online portal that reviews web hosts. He is a regular contributor to Standford’s blog, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com and other major publications. Follow him on Twitter @hostingfactsj.

All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Peterson’s and HOSA Scholarships Reply

Since 1966, Peterson’s has been a trusted resource for students, parents and educators, and we are so proud to work closely with HOSA, an organization that spans 53 states and two hundred thousand members. Like Peterson’s, HOSA is dedicated to achieving the highest standards of quality healthcare through educational development. Both our organizations believe that our future is in good hands. We both hold to the ideals that a quality education can improve lives. Not only the lives of students but, especially in the case of healthcare, all the lives those students will touch in the course of their future careers. We are honored to be able to partner with HOSA in helping to support HOSA scholarships and participating in HOSA sponsored leadership conferences and expos.

So with that, congratulations to Victor Albornoz for his scholarship! During his membership with HOSA, Victor assisted with community service projects and was a part of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society. Victor’s goal is to become a trauma surgeon, and we wish him the best in this endeavor. Again, congratulations from all of us at Peterson’s.


Back to school: Tips and tools to get prepared Reply

Rear view of teenage students walking together on university campus. Horizontal shot.

As the big day gets closer, the day you start college for the first time, it’s important to make sure you’re organised, and you have every box ticked.

It is daunting, but starting college is an adventure, and something which you should approach as a fun, positive step in your life.

Paperwork done?

You probably did some sort of paperwork previously to even get into college, but having been accepted, have you signed all the forms for your accommodation? Do you need to send anything off in terms of money or bursaries? Is there any other piece of paper lurking that you haven’t sent off yet?

Pack up your life

You need to take many things with you as you leave home, but this is no easy task! Bear in mind that many dorm rooms are small, basic, and usually furnished, but you can easily make it homely. Pack light, but effectively. You can buy many things once you arrive, such as bedding and towels etc.

Get sociable

When it comes to meeting your new roommates/neighbours, don’t be shy! You need to create bonds early on, which will make your college life easier, and more fun overall. There will be many activities during Fresher’s Week – get involved.

Readjust your sleeping pattern

Summertime is over, and that means long mornings in bed are finished! In the week leading up to your leaving day, try and adjust your body clock to getting up when you would at college. This all means it’s less likely to be a huge shock when the event occurs.

Budgeting will see you through

This is something you can start getting used to in the weeks leading up to your college start date – budgeting. During your college life you are going to need to organise your money, in order to make sure that everything gets paid, and that you have enough to enjoy yourself. Ask for advice, speak to your parents, basically organise your money and stick to it.

Search for new study tools to use

When reaching for that perfect mark, you have to think a little outside the box. Thankfully there are many study tools to help.

  • Etherpad – If you are collaborating with other students on a project, it can be difficult to send work back and forth – this particular tool means you can collaborate online and share content easily, minimising oversights.
  • Getkahoo – Learning can be fun. You can work with other students or alone, and the multiple choice quizzes will help cement your previous learning, or help you with a subject you’re struggling on.
  • Boomessays – Academic writing doesn’t come that naturally to everyone, and in that case, a writing consultant is the way to go. This site helps you put together that perfect essay.
  • Haikulearning – Sharing knowledge is the perfect way to help others and help yourself. Here you can create pages and publish your knowledge, whilst also accessing content from other users online too.
  • The Homework App – If you need help organising yourself and your studies, this is a handy app on your iPhone or iPad which will make your life infinitely easier.
  • Mindmeister – We mentioned sharing before, but collaborating with other users can be just as effective. You can share ideas in a visual way on this site, which helps you gain ideas for your own college work.
  • Essayroo – Aussie students can access online tutor help from highly trained professionals in their particular field on this site.

These tips should help you on your way to your first day at college, without a hitch.

About Gloria Kopp

Gloria Kopp is a web content writer and an e-learning consultant from Manville city. She graduated from the University of Wyoming and started a career of a creative writer. She has recently launched her Studydemic educational website and is currently working as a freelance writer and editor.

All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Decoding your College Awards Letter Reply

Multi generation meeting at the coffee bar

Sharing the news of a college award letter.

Typically, colleges for which you have been accepted will send an awards letter to you in March or early April. This letter contains important information. From it, you should be able to determine your total cost and the financial aid you are offered. Unfortunately, there is no standardized format for these letters, nor is there a standardized set of data that must be reported in the letter. Each school formats their letters a little differently, and so it can be very difficult to decipher.

On your letter, you may see several acronyms. Let’s go over a few of them so that the letter itself will become clearer. Prior to receiving your Awards Letter, you received a notification from FAFSA which included your EFC – your Expected Family Contribution. This is the amount that you or your family will be expected to cover, using loans or other means. Your COA – is your cost of attendance. It is the amount listed on the letter that shows the total cost to attend the school. Your FAFSA of course, is your Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is the application you completed to start the whole process.

The letter should outline your COA, so that you understand the overall costs. If you are comparing schools, this is often a very important number. You will also see the Net Price, which is the COA minus your gift aid. Gift Aid is considered the scholarships and grants that you were awarded through the school and the FAFSA. While COA is an important number, the Net Cost can be even more important. The Net Cost is the Cost of Attendance (COA) minus the financial aid you received. This includes all grants, scholarships, and loans. The Net Cost is composed of your EFC plus a GAP, which is the difference between the total cost and the EFC – something that goes beyond your expected family contribution.

The Net Cost can be important because, even if the COA of one school is higher than the other, that higher priced school might have more aid available. This could mean that by looking at your net cost, you may find that you could actually pay less to attend a more expensive school because they have more scholarships and grants available.

Once you have decided on a school (if you’ve applied to more than one) it is important for you to review the Awards Letter and return it to the school. When you review your Awards Letter, you will be accepting some or all of the Financial Aid offered. It is important to get this done as soon as possible so that your aid can be applied to your account at the school. You can choose to accept or not accept any portion of your financial aid. When looking through your aid package, you’ll want to accept all grants and scholarships first, followed by any federal loans prior to accepting private loans. This will help ensure that your overall costs stay low.

Sophomores: Now is the Time to Visit and Tour College Campuses Reply

iStock_000004837175SmallVisiting a college campus is a great way to find out if a college is the right fit for you. With all of the variation in college campuses, student housing, and academic and student life, the only way to experience a college before actually attending is to do a campus tour. Plus, it can be fun to have a road trip with your parents or friends during a summer to hit two birds with one stone. During the summer is usually the best time for high school students, however, in order to get a true feel for how the campus will be during the school year, it might be best to visit during the Fall or Spring semester.

The first thing you need to do when planning out your on-campus visits is to choose a number of universities and state colleges that are close and far from your hometown. How many you want to visit is up to you, but it is important to at least visit the colleges on your top 5 list. Keep in mind that sometimes college tours only take a couple of hours so you can visit 2 or 3 during one day if you schedule in advance. However, some colleges also offer the chance for potential applicants to stay the night with current undergraduates. If you have the time to do this, it is highly recommended. Staying the night in a dormitory is a great way to learn firsthand from students what the college experience will be like.

After you have narrowed down the colleges you want to visit, be sure to call the school’s admissions office so that you can be sure you are visiting during an appropriate time. If you want a tour that is led by someone who knows about the campus, most require that you call at least 2 weeks in advance. However, simply going to the campus and walking around without a guide can be helpful too. Though colleges prefer that you schedule a tour, exploring the campus can often give you a more authentic experience.

If you want to get all of the information possible in one visit it is also a good idea to set up appointments with an academic advisor, financial aid office, a professor in the field you want to major in, and a coach if you are planning on doing college sports. Professionals at the school will typically be willing to meet with you during business hours to help answer your questions and show off their school to get you to attend when you graduate high school. And don’t worry, you don’t have to have everything planned out right away. You still have plenty of time to decide what you want to study and where you want to go. Plus, over 50% of students change their major at least once, so don’t feel bad about trying out different specialties until you find one that you truly enjoy.

Applying for Scholarships: Start Early and Apply Often Reply

Students studyingLocal scholarships are scholarships that various organizations in your community offer students who reside in particular place to help pay for college. Often these scholarships are offered through municipalities or prominent figures that wanted to give back to their home communities. Plus, since these are largely given out based on geographic location, it can often be easier to be awarded money for school because of the smaller applicant pool.

Even if you live in a small community, there are often plenty of scholarships available, you just might have to do more work to find them. So, before you start your junior year, you should already be asking your teachers, mentors, employers, parents, and other people in your community that might know about local scholarships that might be available. You might be surprised to find out how much money is available to eager and driven students.

Most scholarship deadlines are in January, so you should be ready by mid-year of your junior year to have scholarships already lined up for after you graduate. This might seem early, but it isn’t. Plan on carving out some time in your schedule in order to find and apply for scholarships. Preparation and due diligence are key here.

Along with asking those who are close to you about available scholarships, check with your guidance office. They will likely have a list of scholarships available. But don’t just stop there as they might not have a full list. Contact state and local agencies, community colleges and universities around your area, as well as searching online for local scholarships in your city. This is a time when picking up the phone or scheduling a meeting with someone in-the-know can greatly pay off in the long run.

The Importance of Following Up on Your Financial Aid Reply

Financial Aid Follow UpThe prospect of college can be a very exciting as well as a little scary. Your life is about to change dramatically, in many ways. Soon you’ll be attending a university, living on campus, and taking classes that will actually lead to your future career! It seems anticlimactic that your preparation consists mostly of tedious applications and almost endless research. While it can be frustrating to spend so much time and effort on such brain numbing tasks, persistence and follow-up can ensure that you get into the school that is the best fit for you, and obtain all of the financial aid that you deserve.

You’ve put the time in. There were the hours spent researching and applying to scholarships, writing essays, and gathering references. You’ve spent your time investigating schools, finding the ones that you feel would be the best fit for you. Finally, you’ve worked to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), reviewed it for accuracy, and it has been sent off to your school choices. Once your schools receive your FAFSA report, they will begin their process of determining what financial aid you are entitled to. The report helps the school determine the Federal financial aid you can be awarded, but it also is often used for other types of grants and loans that the school may offer.

Now is not the time to rest. Once you have been informed that your FAFSA is complete, and you have reviewed your Student Aid Report (SAR) and made any necessary corrections or changes, then your FAFSA information will be sent to the schools you have listed in your application. Now it’s important to follow up.

Check with each school where you have applied to make sure they have received your application. While most of the time a school receives your FAFSA report without a problem, it would be very unfortunate if you were denied admission into one of your top school choices because the school never received it. If it hasn’t been received, most of the time either you or the school can work with FAFSA to make sure it is sent to the school.

Once you have confirmed that the FAFSA report has been received, you can ask the school if there is any other information they need from you and inquire when you could expect to receive an awards letter. This does a couple of things. First, it gives you a timeframe for when you can expect to know how much financial aid you will receive. Second, it leaves a good impression with the school. You show that you are a proactive student who is deeply committed to your education, and it expresses your desire to attend the school. Following up is essential. Being proactive will put you a step ahead of those who simply wait to hear from their school, and help you avoid an unexpected setback.

Need a scholarship? Let Peterson’s help!